He'd spent the last several hours in a stuffy boardroom justifying his training methods to a group of uptight auditors who seemed more than determined to see him busted down to janitor or charlady or whatever they determined the lowest possible position in the organisation to be.
Slumping back in his chair, Andrew didn't know if he'd have a job come morning or not and, the way he felt at the moment, he wasn't sure whether he cared. Deciding to call it a day, he sat upright and slid his laptop and journal into his briefcase.
As he headed out, he popped his head into Dolores' office and bid her farewell. Dolores Henry was what Andrew jokingly referred to as the Watcher Wrangler. She organised all of the in-house Council Watchers, co-ordinating their various classes and arranged transportation, accommodation and the many other necessities that made life run smoothly.
She was a formidable woman, who terrified half the Watchers and all of the Slayers, but she had a soft spot for Andrew. Although you wouldn't know it by the tone of voice she used as he turned to leave. It was the tone of voice that said if you didn't obey quick smart, she'd drag you in by your ear; literally. Andrew had witnessed this on more than one occasion and wasn't keen on experiencing her displeasure.
"I have a message for you." She peered through her glasses at a notepad. "Rupert has requested your presence across the road."
Andrew's shoulders slumped. He'd had enough for one day and didn't fancy rehashing his horrible day with Giles. "Can I give it a miss?"
"I wouldn't worry, love. He didn't sound like a man on the warpath, but if he gives you grief, I'll have his bollocks for breakfast." Dolores smiled sweetly. "Now get out of here and I'll see you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning"
Andrew offered her a half smile. "I may not have a job to come into tomorrow."
"Don't be silly, they'd be fools to let you go and they'll have me to answer to if they even think it. Now go on with you."
"You're a treasure. Night, Dolores."
Andrew waved goodbye, smiling to himself at the pleasant image of Dolores manhandling the auditors into new and interesting positions.
He left the building and ran across the road with his briefcase over his head to shield himself from the drizzle. Giles spotted him as he entered the pub, waved him over and handed Andrew a half pint of lemonade.
"How was the lion's den?"
"I think I got myself sacked." Andrew was so drained from the day that he could barely feel anything beyond numbness.
Giles clapped him on the shoulder in solidarity. "What did they say?"
Andrew snorted, whether with laughter or bitterness, Giles wasn't sure. "They thought that using magic to send my junior Slayers to strange and interesting places was an abuse of power."
Giles raised an eyebrow. "You used Willow's transportation spell?"
Andrew sipped his lemonade before looking up. "I didn't deny it."
"Ah." There was a world of difference between what Andrew said in the meeting and what really happened. "I take that to mean that the lovely Dolores had a word with you about answering only what you were asked and not elaborating. Always good advice. You were sure to mention it was a training exercise?"
"Several times." Andrew doodled in the condensation his drink had left on the tabletop. "I made certain to include comparisons between my method that allowed the girls the full use of their powers and the traditional teaching that insists on blocking them."
Giles winced. He'd always hated that particular test, finding it unnecessarily cruel and pointless. "How did they take that?"
Andrew shrugged. "I don't have a clue if anything I said made an impact. I guess I should start looking for another job."
Giles waved the suggestion away. "Nobody died and your girls showed they'd learned enough from you to make their way back unaided and unharmed. The auditors are there to keep the parents happy when their little princesses kick up a fuss before the ungrateful brats understand that they have a duty to perform. You haven't lost your job." It looked as if a great weight had been lifted from Andrew's shoulders and he smiled for the first time since he'd walked into the bar. "Now, would you care to explain exactly how you transported the girls?"
"Royal Mail." Andrew grinned at Giles confusion. "Let me start at the beginning."
Andrew explained that he'd been working the kinks out of a new defensive spell with Xander, when his current batch of junior Slayers had pushed him too far and he'd used it on them without thinking.
"You turned them into action figures?" Giles blinked in surprise. "How did you know it was safe?"
"I'd already tested it on Xander." Andrew still hadn't told Xander about the photos he'd taken of him in imaginative poses with Jean Luc Picard or that he'd accidentally knocked him off the shelf into a cup of tea. "I was still so mad with the girls that I put them up for sale on eBay and had shipped them out before I'd managed to get my broken desk replaced."
Giles couldn't contain his laughter.
Oh, for the chance to have had that spell while he was training Buffy. The girl would have been the centrepiece of a collection in some sweaty teenager's basement before she could make one more shoe obsessed remark. He would have regretted it later, of course, but it would have felt so good it the heat of the moment.
"Someone wants a word." Giles nodded in the direction of young woman who was making her way to their table.
"Mr Giles, Mr Wells. Mrs Henry asked me to remind you that you have meeting with her at 8.30 tomorrow morning." The girl looked at the floor and shuffled her feet.
"Thank you, Courtney. That will be all." The girl almost tripped over herself in her haste to leave their presence.
Courtney had been the bane of his life since she started his classes. It looked like finding herself atop the bookcase of a middle-aged Star Trek obsessive in Idaho and having to talk her way out of his basement and back to London, had given Courtney a modicum of respect for Andrew. Or, at the very least, a healthy dose of fear.
"If that's the type of change I can expect from your students, maybe we should implement your new training initiative across the board." Giles raised his glass in salute.
Andrew mused that perhaps now wasn't the time to mention the money he'd made from his sale of prototype collectibles. He sipped his drink and smiled shyly. No, he'd leave that revelation for another day.
For edenfalling and mad_jaks
Part of the London!verse